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Should More College Towns Offer Food Banks?

The University District food bank near the University of Washington typically caters to the needs of the working poor and single parents, but recently it has seen more college students coming in for food because they can't afford to eat.

A food bank across the country from University District is finding a similar pattern, and the director of the Cornucopia Food Pantry at the University of New Hampshire says:

There is a stereotype that well, if they're in college, they can afford to eat. But there are some students who have hardly any disposable income, and because of that, the food budget suffers. They either eat really badly, or they just don't eat enough.

Most community food banks simply require identification that someone lives in the area to gain access to their services. Do you think more college towns should have food banks or would too many students take advantage of them?

Join The Conversation
Captious Captious 9 years
Sure. Let the college kids go to the food bank. On Friday and Saturday nights w/ a breathalyzer test at the door. If you have ANY money for alcohol then you had money for food. I put off school for years to save up for it then had to put off finishing it after I was laid off and had to live off the money I saved for college. I've been homeless and jobless and bought food by picking up change under drive-thrus and getting things like Ramen (one 5-10 cent bag is TWO servings. Eat HALF.), noodles and Velveeta (not the prepared boxes the separate items, and imitation Spam. People are being so harsh because most college kids are ALREADY receiving support from either their parents or loans and yet feel entitled to more to do things that are NOT essential. Your dorm usually requires you to have a food plan and there is almost always a buffet style cafeteria so load up.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i don't know if food banks are the answer but i think that they could certainly help. i think that colleges really should be making more of an effort to help out the students regardless. when i was in school - i was paying soo much for tuition, and to think that i had to pay soo much more on top of that - for food, parking, books etc - it made it really hard for me to do much, and i was working full time and still couldn't manage to make ends meet. there were a lot of days that i went w/o eating cause i couldn't afford it. i think that there's something to be said about food banks, or schools making some type of program available to you on campus to eat.
tee0206 tee0206 9 years
You know, many college students probably qualify for food stamps, too, but not many take advantage of that. I don't see anything wrong with food pantries catering to college students. I was an AmeriCorps volunteer at a food bank for a year. In our case, our food bank was a distribution center who collected food from various donors (grocery stores, individuals, etc.) as well as purchased food (such as subsidized food from USDA and FEMA) and then distributed food to shelters, food pantries, etc. We often had really good food available, partly because Whole Foods was one of our big donors!
CoralAmber CoralAmber 9 years
Good point Pop! And carhorn too :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I think abuse is a problem with any program, and I'm not sure that college kids would be any more likely to take advantage of the program than the general population. And I don't know about food banks in other parts of the country, but I wouldn't want to eat for free out of the ones I've been in.
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
anyone who needs help from a food bank should have access to it. period. as someone who grew up poor and visited a few food banks as a kid, it's not an enjoyable experience. it's not like going to the grocery store and picking out what you like; it's demeaning and unpleasant, and a last resort for a lot of the folks who are barely scraping by. i find a lot of the reactions here to be quite shocking, actually. there are a lot of assumptions that students have wealthy parents, don't work hard or budget well, and few are taking into account that there are working poor among the college population.
pinky23 pinky23 9 years
i think that a college-town food bank is a really interesting idea. as a college junior, i know plenty of people who live off of ramen noodles (which have no nutritional value). although the university does a fairly good job with financial aid for tuition/room & board, it would be unfair to make blanket statements about what college students should be able to afford. plus, it's so hard to get through classes while hungry. i give this idea a thumbs up!
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i know some people struggle with money in college...i mean, i had a loan and i'm still paying it off, but i dont believe that hungry students don't ever buy clothes, booze, entertainment, transportation etc.
krrn krrn 9 years
i said maybe because i could see some students abusing it but i actually did struggle a bit with money and food in college. people have the wrong idea, yes some students have a lot of money but i did not. my parents and i both took out huge loans to pay for college so at this point i am in a lot of debt. on top of that, i had a job on campus but it did not pay very much (i only worked about 5 hours per week). i also did not have the time or the means to get to another job because i did not have a car. my senior year of college especially, i struggled severely to pay for food, let alone food that was good for me. please do not assume that all college students are rich brats! i did not have digital cable or fancy clothes. i had a cheap cell phone that was under a family plan that my parents payed for. and also, my parents are not rich either. they are severely in debt because of my college more than i am and while i could ask for money once in a while, i couldn't do it very often as they were very low on cash as well. it annoys me to see what people have written in here because i was really hurting for food and money through most of college.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Considering the fact that I'm not GOING to school because of high food/gas/energy costs, I think this would be reasonable program.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I helped run the food bank here in my town, big college town, and we would have students show up for the free food, who darn well didnt need it. They would even criticize the offerings, and leave because it wasnt stuff they "liked" (generic brands) I know there are probably students on scholarship, or loans who need help with buying food or household goods but for every one of those there are 10 others who just want a free handout because they want to spend thier money elsewhere.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 9 years
Wow, I'm kind of surprised at the attitude people have towards college students. I can't imagine that many college students would "take advantage" of a food bank without really needing it. What's up with the prevailing idea that college kids are all self-entitled, rich, boozing brats who just don't know how to handle all the money that mommy and the government are giving them?
Hoaxerz Hoaxerz 9 years
Don't assume that students going to the food bank don't have a job or can get a loan. I had an RA whose parents were both laid off right before she left for college, so not only could they not help pay, they couldn't co-sign for a loan. She was an RA for the free housing (her younger brother even lived with her for awhile), and work another job to help pay for tuition and other expenses. After graduating, she was able to get a well-paid job, and help the rest of her family get back on their feet. Education may not be a right, but I think it is a worthy pursuit for anyone, especially those not financially well-off.
valancyjane valancyjane 9 years
I can think of several situation in which a student would be deserving of aid -- but I can think of more situation in which students would just abuse it. The student body at my alma mater, for example, was pretty privileged and there were plenty of jerks who would have used this as a chance to save money for beer/pot/whatever. Food banks should be for people who contribute to the community in some way, either through their labor or by trying to be a good neighbor. College kids *generally* don't contribute, at least not as much as the residents who are there all year.
supercoolnat supercoolnat 9 years
Just what we need - fueling the sense of entitlement at a time when young adults are just starting to learn money management. Instead of getting free food, how about developing a budget and sticking to it. And live within your means, please - ditch the expensive cell phone and plan, stop wearing those fancy clothes, get a roommate (or a few), cancel the digital cable, sell the car and ride a bike. And remember, financial aid packages take into account room and board in addition to tuition. So that loan check you're getting is supposed to go to rent and food, not all those fun extras.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I survived 3 years of Ramon (sp???) and added things to it like rice to make a meal and cereal. Even if you get a loan that does not always mean you can afford things; unless you can get a non educational loan. Having 2 jobs is what saved me during college. If you can work, try to work. I'm not saying its hard but its worth it to know you did it on your own.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
and maybe if you really are broke, don't buy BOOZE!
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I can only afford going out to eat, taking vacays, and buying clothes + shoes while being a full-time student b/c of my parents. :p If push comes to shove ask your parents for help! They will be willing to help you out but you MUST first help yourself and be responsible with the little money you have. :D
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
If you can afford to go to college, you can afford food!
skigurl skigurl 9 years
get a loan like normal students or get a job?!?! what the hell is this. education is a priviledge, not a right. if you can't afford it, you don't do it. i don't agree with the food bank thing for college students at all. call your parents. they can send you cans of soup.
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 9 years
When dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in college, my friends and I couldn't afford the meat entree at the student union cafeteria very often. We ate veg because green beans cost less than chicken or burger. We also lived on ramen noodles, plain pasta, and peanut butter sandwiches. Back in those days, ramen noodles usually cost about 10 cents a package, 5 if there was a really great sale! The food bank idea is an excellent one...with careful administration, it would help students get the nutrition they need and stay healthy.
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